ROSSINGTON – St. MICHAEL Parish – Парафія св. Михаїла

St. Michael Parish in Rossington is located outside Rossington between Westlock and Barrhead: location: SE 18-60-1-5. The approximate distance to Edmonton is 95 km. The first Ukrainian settlers around Westlock and Barrhead arrived in the late 1920s. Most of them came from the Lemko district, especially the village of Balnycia, district Lisko, Sanik region, the border region between Poland and Ukraine. With the wave of immigration from Ukraine grew the desire for the Ukrainian settlers in this area to worship in their own faith. The very beginning of a church started with services held from house to house. The first priests came from Edmonton by bus to the Kawulych farm, were picked up by the parishioner where the service was held and they stayed overnight until Monday. Rev. Ireneus Procenty, OSBM, and Rev. Michael Hawryluk were two of the priests who held services at that time. At times, services were held at the Barrhead, Naples and Westlock Roman Catholic churches or in the house of Michael Hoblak. The first priest that ever came out had a three day service – he went from house to house for three days. Each day a service was held and dinner was served afterwards for all the parishioners.

Andrew Hoblak was one of the first infants baptized and confirmed by Fr. Michael Hawryluk in the church. Mary Kawulych and Ed Nehring were the first couple to get married in the church.

In the fall of 1951, plans for constructing a church began. Fr. Stephen Chabursky was the chief organizer and in the spring of 1952 a church was built with all the parishioners donating their money and Peter Iwankow made a special gift, owning a movie theatre in Barrhead. Mike Hoblak Sr. donated land for the site and ¾ of an acre was fenced off. Bill Hoblak became the head carpenter and the other parishioners helped. An executive was formed: Theodore Hnatko (president), John Hoblak (treasurer), Bill Hoblak (vice president) and Harry Pyshniak (secretary). Fr. Chabursky was coming by bus or hitchhiking from Athabasca and the people were donating $15.00 for the services. Although the church was without a roof, the first service was held in June of 1952 during the Zeleni Sviata (Pentecost). Traditionally on this day the church is decorated in green branches as it was done in Ukraine and grave services are provided for the deceased parishioners. In 1952 Fr. Chabursky left and Fr. Peter Petryshyn took over the Parish, using the bus as a way of communication until 1966. In 1966 Fr. Petryshyn purchased a car.

In the early 1960’s a ladies executive was formed: Anne Ewankow (president), Henriette Smerechynski (secretary), Mary Hobal (treasurer). In 1962 Bishop Neil Savaryn, assisted by The Right Rev. Mitrat Basil Laba and Fr. Petryshyn, came to bless the newly constructed church. In 1964 a cemetery next to the Roman Catholic Cemetery in Westlock was purchased. For many bigger church events, like funerals and weddings, the parishioners were using the Roman Catholic Parish in Westlock. In 1968 the church received new stucco and all labor was donated by Harry Pyshniak. In 1969 Fr. Petryshyn was assigned to Redwater and the neighboring parishes. Fr. Bohdan Karychyk served here well from 1969 until his passing in 1977. After that, for two years the Parish was served by different clergy, and many times Bishop Demetrius Greschuk did the substituting.

The following clergy served the Parish in the later years: Fr. Philip Shinduke (1979-1985), Fr. Richard Zuback (1985), Fr. Michael Kowalchyk (1985-1995), Fr. Don Bodnar (1996-1997), Fr. Benny Ambrose (1998-1999), Fr. Stanislav Bjeli (2001-2008), Fr. Don Bodnar (2008- ).